Students Depart for the Winter

After 11 weeks away from family and friends, students on campus will begin returning home over the upcoming weekend. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States continues to rise, the school has designed a three-day staggered departure schedule to minimize physical contact and reduce the risk of contagion. Mrs. Amber Jordan, assistant to the dean of community life, said, “[Since] not everyone can just leave at a specific time, we sent out a survey asking [students] to sign up for pickup times. I would say that’s the biggest and largest detail, that is the most time-consuming and is going to either make or break the situation.”

Students will be picked up during a selected 30-minute time slot between 10:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from Friday, November 20 to Sunday, November 22. On the weekend of departure, signs and balloons will be set up to direct families to their pick up locations. Students taking transportation provided by the school will depart from campus at 9 a.m. each day on shuttle buses to Bradley International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, or various stops in New York City. To follow safety protocols, students traveling on buses must remain socially distanced.

Although most students who live near the school are planning to be picked up by parents and driven home, some students who live farther away plan to take more than one form of transportation throughout their journey. Ashley Kase ’21 plans to take the shuttle bus to LaGuardia to fly back home to Boise, Idaho, where she will meet her family. Kase said, “Especially since we’ve had less frequent breaks due to COVID, I am really excited to see my family after so long. It should be a nice change of pace, and I am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with [them].”

In some cases, international students will not be able to return home due to lockdown restrictions in their home countries or U.S. travel bans that would prevent them from returning to the school, were they to leave the country. Darina Huang ’23 originally planned to return home to Singapore. However, since Huang doesn’t possess Singaporean citizenship or permanent residence, which are required by Singapore’s lockdown restrictions, she had to adjust her plans to stay with extended family in New Jersey for a portion of the break and remote learning period. 

Many countries require a negative COVID-19 test result and a quarantine process to enter from the U.S. For example, to return to her home in Hong Kong, Alex Chou ’23 must complete a PCR test 72 hours prior to her flight. When her flight lands in Hong Kong, she must present a copy of the laboratory certificate to immigration officers. As a result, Chou has arranged to stay in New York City for two days to complete her COVID-19 test before flying back home. Chou said, “I’m excited to fly back home and see my family, but Hong Kong is quite tedious and strict about flights coming from high-risk areas.”

After ten days of Thanksgiving break, classes will resume online on November 30.

The Features section surveyed students about their departure plans and received 145 responses.

Annie Xu ’22

“It is worrisome to think that again, we truly don’t know if we will come back because of all the uncertainty and the surge in cases.” – Billy Meneses ’22

Annie Xu ’22

“I just spent half a year away from this place. It’s just gonna hurt to take another three months away on top of that. I’m glad I could make the most of these two months on campus, though.” – Izhaar Rosa ’22